Jason Pierce returns with his biggest-sounding album since 1997's landmark Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Some artists make it look easy. Albums arrive on a schedule like buses, ushered forth with blurbs that make the whole thing sound positively joyous and life-affirming. Jason Pierce is not one of those people. Interviews given around the time of the last Spiritualized album – 2018’s And Nothing Hurt – describe a spiral of pain, frustration and exhaustion. In short, Pierce seemed done.
Back in 2018, Pierce told Stereogum that he wanted And Nothing Hurt to sound huge and expansive and was disappointed when it didn’t. But whatever his perceived failure back then – and “failure” is unspeakably harsh for such a lovely record – it’s a resounding success this time around.
As suggested by their reversed Vonnegut-quoting titles, And Nothing Hurt and Everything Was Beautiful were conceived as sister pieces, supposedly originally a double album that was eventually cleaved in two. Where the former defied its creator and remained grounded and intimate, the latter blows open the roof and jets off into space like some psychedelic great glass elevator.
This enormous scope is immediately evident in the gorgeous cosmic love song that opens the album. ‘Always Together With You’ is all of Pierce’s grandest tendencies in one beautiful song, beginning as timid declarations of love and devotion that grow bolder and more determined with each verse, until it’s eventually blasting off towards a planet of discordant guitars and celestial choirs.
Almost everything on Everything Was Beautiful feels like it’s rocketing off to somewhere fantastical. You can almost smell the jet fumes burning off the back of ‘Best Thing You Never Had’. ‘The Mainline Song’ rattles along like the trans-American trains it’s eulogising. ‘Let It Bleed’ hovers briefly in a quiet place before suddenly exploding with a force that is genuinely shocking. Only the gorgeous country waltz ‘Crazy’ – co-written with Nikki Lane – seems content to float gently, the thrusters finally giving way to a moment of utter peace.
Since its release in 1997, Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space has hung over everything Spiritualized have done. Not since then has Pierce sounded so energised and content, almost as if he’s stopped trying to outrun his magnum opus and has instead turned and faced it. The result is without a question his best work in over two decades.